• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Apelstav

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Earled seems full of promise, and young kings always seem to make excellent AAR characters (maybe it's just easier to relate to someone who hasn't been grizzled down by years of war and heavy duty when one is born in our day and age). Going to be interesting to see his choice of bride though, and the effects it'll have on England. Without either Normans or Norsemen England oft seems to get cut off from the world around it but I'm guessing you'll return England to the continental politics eventually? Either way could of course make for a good storyline.
 

Estonianzulu

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So, the young King is playing by his own rules eh? Too bad, an English-Aragon could sure put a dent in the side of French ambition in Spain.
 

RossN

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grumphie: True, though it was also geo-political reasons that made me decide not to marry her. :)

Sarayakat: Lol. :D

Gedierond: I was very seriously considering Queen Sancha of Leon for a while, but unfortunately she is only 7 so I'd have to wait nearly a decade. Then a different option open up...

Apelstav: Good point about young kings - and England being cut off. Hopefully my choice of bride will remedy that, in the long term at least. :)

Chief Ragusa: True... but I'm looking in a different direction for now. :)

Estonianzulu: Could be, but Aragon is so feeble and Isabel so flawed I decided against it. I ended up looking someplace different altogether, as you'll see!
 

RossN

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Volume Two (continued)



Princess Ragnhild Maria of Norway

Winchester, November 1083

It was a wet and cool morning in Winchester of the kind that would not have encouraged many people to tarry in the streets. Thus it was that only a few were around to witness a woman arrive in some state. She was tall and regal, handsome rather than beautiful, finely clad and riding a good horse, as did her escort. Almost no one recognised her by sight though in the days to come she would become very familiar indeed.

The Bishop of Salisbury was on hand to greet the party as they got off their horses. He bowed low before the regal woman, and noted that she was not all that much shorter than the King. A promising start. "Welcome to Winchester, Princess Ragnhild. I am Ælaf, Bishop of Salisbury and Chancellor of England. I hope your journey was a pleasant one?"

"Yes, mine journey was good," Ragnhild said slowly in heavily accented English. She looked at the Bishop with placid green eyes and smiled, which took about ten years off her age. "The King is looking forward to meeting me, yes?"

Ælaf smiled back. "Princess everyone is looking forward to meeting you."

When Earled had first announced his intention to marry Princess Ragnhild Maria of Norway have his court thought he was joking and the other half thought he was mad. Ragnhild was a widow who already had two daughters to her name and she was thirty three.

"More than twice your age!" gasped the King's mother, voicing the thoughts of many.

"True," the King replied and smiled. "But she is of proven fertility and her elder daughter is Duchess of the Isles. And she is King Olaf's sister."

"And Harald Hardråde's daughter," thundered Marshal Thorold, face reddening.

"Again true my friend," the King said patiently keeping his smile up. "Yet I believe Olaf is not his father's son. Norway is not our enemy, and could be a fine ally."

The Witan had had a lot to say of the potential union but after much talk the King was able to bring them round to the idea. In truth Earled was fortunate that were so few great nobles left from Harold's day. War had made England a young country and not many now had faced the Norse in battle. So while there was plenty of muttering Earled got his support. One person still had something to say however, and he waited to so when they were alone at supper, save only for the King's ever present dogs - and the silent and glowering Osfrid of course.

"Sire, there is another reason for this marriage isn't there? Your child with this woman will have a claim on the Norse crown."

Those shrewd green eyes glanced at him from the opposite side of the table as the King laughed. "True enough Ælaf, and I'd be lying if I said that hadn't occured to me." He shrugged and smiled. "Don't worry I've no intention of attacking the Norse. I was right you know; Olaf will be a good ally but we can't be sure what the next Norse king will bring. If war must come, then let my family have some say it."

The Wedding of Earled & Ragnhild​

The first meeting between Earled and Ragnhild went very well. All in the court could see that the Princess was most taken with her dashing groom, as her cheeks coloured and eyes widened at the sight of him. For his part Earled saw much to please him in this older but still comely woman. Ælaf, who knew his monarch far better than most caught the tiny flicker of relief in Earled's face and the genuine warmth to his smile. An unlikely pairing it might be, he mused but not one without hope.

Just two days after the wedding a herald arrived bringing news from Norway. King Olaf was requesting the aid of his new brother-in-law in his war against Sweden.

"I must go." Earled announced, face resolved. He turned to his new Queen, seated beside him and took her hand. "We must go, my dear, to your brave brother's aid.."

A summons to war...​

Ragnhild looked stunned, but then smiled and nodded at her husband. Ælaf suddenly realised that the poor woman had probably been dreading being stranded alone in a strange country where she barely spoke the language while her husband fought abroad. He was still looking at the Queen thoughtfully when he heard his name called and realised the King was speaking to him.

"Think you can keep England together in my absence my friend?"
Earled asked.

"Well I only had eleven years practice," muttered the Bishop. "If only there was someone experienced here!"

The two men laughed (to the bemusement of the Queen whose English was still hit or miss). A few days later the royal party left Winchester for York where the huscarls were massing to take boat across the wintery North Sea. The King shook hands with his oldest friend.

"Who knows, by the time we return I might be even taller."

"Or I might be shorter, Sire."

Earled's response was a hearty laugh as he rode off, through the town gates, Ragnhild riding to one side, Marshal Thorold to the other. Ælaf stood by the gates and watched as the whole of of that procession passed, waiting until even the dragon and wyvern banners vanished into the distance before turning around and walking back home.

Neither man would ever see the other again.


 
Last edited:

Apelstav

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Hey! Mean ending there!

Interesting choice of bride though, but a real smart move by Earled - nothing like a marriage to bring friendship between old enemies. Will be most interesting to see the Saxon experience of their ancient enemies homelands, and even more so fighting against nomads in the snow.
 

Omen

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There's a cliffhanger, then there's a cliffhanger and a guy standing above you commenting on how tired your fingers must be getting hanging there off that cliff . . .

Great update though.
 

Estonianzulu

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Pulled a fast one on us! Norway eh? Looks like Olaf got himself in some trouble, I suppose you really do want to have an ally out there otherwise it may be best just to let them take it on the nose
 

RossN

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Sarayakat: Sorry!

Apelstav: King Inge and his army are busy fighting in Norway so Earled is mostly doing siege warfare. Less glamorous than pitched battles but it brings in plenty of plunder at least.

Despaxas:
Welcome, glad you like it! :)

Omen: *Sigh* I can see I'll have to re-think my cliffhanger policy in future. :)

Estonianzulu: Iberia genuinely was my focus and Queen Sancha of Leon my potential bride but then Ragnhild's husband died. None of the other Scandinavian royals were willing to agree to a proposal, so I decided to take the option.
 

RossN

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Volume Two (continued)

The Saxons land on the Swedish coast.​

Norway & Sweden, January to October 1084

In January 1084 Earled had raised just short of six thousand men and set sail for Norway with the greatest fleet England had seen since the days of Alfred the Great. From the start fortune seemed to favour the King as the treachorous weather that so often buffeted the North Sea in winter was absent. Instead Earled and his fleet crossed in cool crisp weather with a steady breeze filling their sails all the way from York.

"God is truly on our side, my friends!"
Earled had called out to thanes on his ship before turning his face to sea and - somewhere! - distant Norway. He did feel just then that God Himself was urging him on, and he murmured a quiet prayer. Oh had any Saxon king ever dared such a grand adventure? Whatever else the chronicles said of him they would not soon forget King Earled's Great Fleet.

They made landfall at Vestfold where the King embraced his brother-in-law and swore an oath not to leave for England til the Swedes were defeated. Here too he bade farewell to his Queen, an emotional farewell for he had grown fond of Ragnhild with her dark brown hair, soft green eyes and gentle ways. True his lack of Norse and her ramshackle English made communication not as easy as it might be, but he enjoyed the challenge and suspected she did too. Yes, as he kissed her and said his goodbyes the King knew he'd be visiting Olaf's court long before the war ended.

From Vestfold the Saxons sailed directly to the Swedish shore, determined to take the fight to the enemy. They landed in Västergötland on the 7th of February 1084 and many were struck by the desolate beauty of the country with its rocky shores and dark pine forests, still dusted with snow. Earled, no fool, had brought along Norse guides to advise him on feeding and clothing his army. He knew very little of Sweden but what he did know was that six thousand men would need to live off the land and to do that they would need to know the land.

"God has favoured us again," the King said to Skuli as they watched the huscarls carrying shields and spears from the beached ships. "I hear this a mild winter."

"It is," said Tostig's son, his mournful dark eyes turning from the shore to his cousin. "I know this country and the next winter won't be half as good."

"Ah but don't forget my cousin, we'll have half a years worth of victories by then." The King laughed. "Oh, don't be such a sceptic Skuli! Where is your spirit -can't you see what a glorious adventure this is?"

The Earl of Oxford merely snorted and looked back to the beach, while his much younger monarch simply shook his head in sympathy. Poor Skuli was thirty-one and to the sixteen year old Earled it more than showed.

The main Swedish armies were in Norway itself, meaning pitched battle was unlikely. A disappointment, but the Saxons were soon to discover an unexpected talent for seizing the tiny villages and strongholds that dotted the kingdom. Läckö the first settlement to fall was on the edge of an immense lake, vaster than anything in England. With the stronghold protected by water on three sides the Saxons had difficulty taking it... until the King turned to the abundant surrounding pine forests and set his huscarls to work building boats. On the 3rd of July Läckö fell to an assault from land and lake. The trading town of Lödöse & the ecclesiastical center of Skara were quickly taken, though not without heavy fighting and late in the month Earled turned south, marching into Småland.

That late summer was one of the greatest times in Earled's life. He spent his days hunting wolves and bears in the great dark forests or speaking strategy with Skuli and Thorold. Sweden was not, alas, a very rich country but there was gold and silver to be found here and as each stronghold fell the Saxon hoard increased. It was while besieging Näsborg that news arrived from Norway.

Princess Gunhilda, born 14th September 1084.​

A daughter! I have a daughter over in King Olaf's court. Oh Ragnhild my love, does she have your eyes or mine? For the rest of the day the King wandered the the army camp with a foolish grin on his face, to the bafflement of his huscarls. When he announced the reason for his joy to the army the following morning the whole Saxon host cheered themselves hoarse in celebration.

Näsborg fell. So did Kalmar and Alvesta. The King, heedless of the danger insited on leading the assaults on Swedeish strongholds in person, sword in hand. At Kalmar he was first over the palisade and nearly got a spear in the throat for his troubles if Osfrid hadn't been there to hack the Swede down. After that the King grew less reckless, though his courage remained in full. "Perhaps I'm slowing down in my old age," he suggested to Thorold on the day he (Earled) turned 17.

To his disappointment the Marshal didn't rise to the bait. Earled sighed and watched him leave the tent. Ælaf would have had a sharp witted and sharp tongued response. It was times like this he missed the wily old Bishop of Salisbury. What did he think of Earled being a father?

It was October and the weather was cooling. With the south of Sweden in Saxon hands Earled would have little choice but to march north. He hoped he and his men would be ready for the winter and any other surprises those dark pine forests held.

October 1084 - Earled turns north.​
 
Last edited:

unmerged(58610)

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For a war declared by Norway, there's an absence of troops in Sweden. Just Earled and the Saxons. I hope Earled will take the lands for himself - he has done all the work.
 

richvh

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The way I read the call to arms letter, the war with Sweden was started by Sweden; the war over Karelia was started by Norway, but I doubt it involves the Swedes.
 

Omen

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Heh! Cliffhangers (even ones with men standing over you commenting) are fun!

Are there any gains possible for England in this fight?
 

Fyregecko

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Tommy4ever

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What's England's succession law? With the Queen being as old as she is, you might not get another shot at another pregnancy to get a son - this daughter may well be the best you get out of Ragnhild. :/

Suprised how seriously you took your alliance with the Norse. :p, I usually just agree to enter wars like that and do nothing about it.
 

noobermenschen

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